- Ben Goessling, ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter
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Today we conclude our series, looking at one of the Minnesota Vikings heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team before, and a prognosis on whether he’ll be back with the club in 2015.
Free agent to be: Cullen Loeffler
Position: Long snapper
Years in the league: 11
What he made last season: $1,270,000 (cap number); $1,145,000 (cash value)
What he did last season: Loeffler has been the Vikings' long snapper for more than a decade now, and he had another solid year, despite one significant mistake. His bounced snap to punter Jeff Locke deep in Vikings territory led to a blocked punt that went for a safety and the decisive points in the Miami Dolphins' 37-35 Week 16 win. Locke said after the game he felt terrible for Loeffler, who is something of an older brother to the young punter and kicker Blair Walsh. Otherwise, Loeffler was his usual dependable self.
His potential market value: Good long snappers rarely get away, because mistakes at their position are usually catastrophic. There would likely be teams interested in Loeffler should he get to the open market, but the guess here is he won't.
Will he still fit the Vikings? Yes. He's the elder statesman of the team, but sets the tone for a close-knit group of specialists. Last year was a strange one for Loeffler, whose interview provided investigators with the main piece of corroborating evidence for former punter Chris Kluwe's claims against special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. But Priefer came back after a two-week suspension, he and Loeffler are on good terms and there's no reason to think the Vikings want to look elswhere.
What happens: Loeffler gets another multi-year deal from the Vikings, returning to extend his NFL career. Good long snappers enjoy the kind of job tenure usually reserved for judges. Loeffler's eclectic business interests outside of football (an ice sculpting business? A political career?) will probably be on hold for a few years.
Today we conclude our series, looking at one of the Minnesota Vikings heading for free agency.